Prince Francis Joseph of Braganza

Prince Francis Joseph
Born (1879-09-07)7 September 1879
Meran, Austria-Hungary
Died 15 June 1919(1919-06-15) (aged 39)
Ischia, Italy
Full name
Francisco José Gerardo Maria Jorge Humberto Antonio Henrique Miguel Rafael Gabriel de Bragança
House House of Braganza
Father Miguel, Duke of Braganza
Mother Princess Elisabeth of Thurn and Taxis

Prince Francis Joseph of Braganza (Portuguese: Príncipe Francisco José de Bragança; 7 September 1879 15 June 1919) was a member of the exiled branch of House of Braganza and an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. During his life he was involved in a number incidents ranging from sex scandals to swindles. His full given names were Francis Joseph Gerard Maria George Humbert Anthony Henry Michael Rafael Gabriel (Portuguese: Francisco José Gerardo Maria Jorge Humberto António Henrique Miguel Rafael Gabriel).[1]

Early life

Prince Francis Joseph (left) with his father, brother Miguel and sister Maria Theresia

Francis Joseph was born in Meran, Austria (now in Italy), the second son of the Miguelist pretender to the Portuguese throne Miguel, Duke of Braganza and his first wife Princess Elisabeth of Thurn and Taxis.[2] He was the namesake of his godfather Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria.[3] Francis Joseph's father was the head of the non reigning branch of the Portuguese Royal House that had been exiled from Portugal. The exile was the result of the Portuguese law of banishment of 1834 and the constitution of 1838 which was brought about because his grandfather Miguel of Portugal had in 1828 usurped the throne of Portugal from Queen Maria II. His grandfather reigned as king until 1834 when Maria II was restored. Those Portuguese who recognised Francis Joseph's father as rightful king of Portugal acknowledged Francis Joseph as an Infante of Portugal.

Like his father, Francis Joseph pursued a career in the Austro-Hungarian Army. In October 1900, while a lieutenant in the Hussars he was disciplined by his godfather the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph, after he issued a challenge to an old colonel who called him to account for a breach of Army regulations. As a result, he was removed from the Hussars and transferred to a regiment of Dragoons and sent to carry out policing duties in the barren, poverty stricken villages along the Austrian-Russian frontier.[4]

Homosexual scandal

In August 1902 Francis Joseph was in London to attend the coronation of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. On 11 September he was indicted in the Central Criminal Court on a charge that he had committed an act of gross indecency with a fifteen-year-old boy.[5] A 24-year-old man and a seventeen-year-old boy were also charged with conspiring together to procure the commission of an act of gross indecency. A witness claimed that he had made a hole in a bedroom door and that through the hole he had seen Francis Joseph and the fifteen-year-old boy engaged in sexual activity in a house in Lambeth. The witness's testimony was contradicted by the police who said that it was only possible to see nine inches of the bed through the hole. The prosecutors announced that they thought that it would not be right for the jury to convict on the evidence produced. The jury pronounced Francis Joseph not guilty.

After the acquittal his lawyer stated that Francis Joseph had gone to the house "under the impression that it was a brothel and that a woman would be waiting for him there. It was not uncommon on the Continent for men and boys to go about touting to take men to brothels." The other man and the two boys were found guilty of conspiring together to procure the commission of an act of gross indecency. The man was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and the boys to ten and eight months each.[6]

As a result of the scandal Francis Joseph was forced to resign his commission as a Lieutenant in the Seventh Hussars of the Austro-Hungarian Army. The Austrian courts reduced his legal status, depriving him of his civic rights and placing the administration of his affairs in the hands of a trustee, his brother-in-law Prince Charles Louis of Thurn und Taxis.[7]

Francis Joseph was later implicated in another homosexual scandal in Austria.[8]

Emerald swindle

Francis Joseph of Braganza

In November 1909 Francis Joseph had £325,000 swindled from him after purchasing what he believed to be valuable emeralds and shares in an English mining company, by an impostor passing himself of as Frederick Vanderbilt of the famous Vanderbilt family. The impostor, whose real name was William Lackerstein Joachim,[9] first met Francis Joseph in Paris in April 1909 and a month later Joachim traveled to Vienna where he threw a dinner for Francis Joseph.[10] Joachim managed to convince Francis Joseph of his credentials as an astute financier.[11] As Francis Joseph's affairs had been placed in the hands of a trustee and he was only given an allowance, he saw a friendship with supposed millionaire member of the Vanderbilt family as a good way to boost his finances. In October after Francis Joseph returned from a trip abroad,[10] he received a number of business proposals where Joachim told him that he had recently acquired a large number of emeralds and that because Francis Joseph had been a good host to him in Vienna, that he would allow him to purchase the emeralds for a good price, whereby he could then sell them for a substantial profit.[11]

The deal was held up after Francis Joseph did not show up for an arranged meeting at a banquet. After an emissary informed Joachim that Francis Joseph's father, the Duke of Braganza, had summoned him to his castle in Seebenstein, Joachim feared that he had been tricked. However, the next day he received a letter from Francis Joseph in which he revealed his annoyance at being unable to attend.[11]

Joachim and Francis Joseph next met in Berlin a week later to conclude the emerald deal.[11] However, during the delay Joachim had come up with a way to swindle more money out of Francis Joseph. While in Berlin, he introduced Francis Joseph to two supposed mining engineers.[10] The two engineers made a good impression on Francis Joseph,[10] so Joachim managed to get him to part with more money by acquiring shares in the mining company that he said he was the majority shareholder of. For the emeralds and shares Prince Francis Joseph paid a total of £325,000,[11] £125,000 for the emeralds and £200,000 for the shares.[9]

As the emeralds and shares turned out to be worthless Francis Joseph decided to prosecute criminally through the Austrian embassy in London.[10] The majority of his money was recovered.[12]

Royalist leader

In 1911–12 Francis Joseph participated in the monarchist uprisings in northern Portugal led by Henrique Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro, in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the First Portuguese Republic.[13] After his father and older brother renounced their rights to the Portuguese throne in an attempt to unite the monarchist support behind the deposed King Manuel II, Prince Francis Joseph was hailed as a leader of the Royalist cause by a number of monarchists and he was seen as a rival to the deposed king in the event of a restoration.[14]


During World War I Francis Joseph fought in the Austro-Hungarian Army and was captured. He was imprisoned on the island of Ischia near Naples where he died of heart failure.[15]

Titles and styles



  1. da Silveira Pinto, Albano (1991). Resenha das familías titulares e grandes de Portugal. pp. xlii.
  2. 1 2 Almanach de Gotha (150th ed.). Justus Perthes. 1913. pp. 29, 30.
  3. Graham, Evelyn (2003). Albert: King of the Belgians. Kessinger Publishing. p. 46. ISBN 0-7661-6194-3.
  4. "Discipline for Princes". Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette. 1900-10-04. p. 4.
  5. The Times ( 12 September 1902), p. 10, and ( 13 September 1902), p. 4.
  6. The Times ( 13 September 1902), p. 4.
  7. A Veteran Diplomat (1909-07-18). "Where Americans Lose Caste". New York Times. p. SM2.
  8. Smith, Timothy D'Arch (1970). Love in Earnest: Some Notes on the Lives and Writings of English 'Uranian' Poets from 1889 to 1930. Routledge & K. Paul. p. 43. ISBN 0-7100-6730-5.
  9. 1 2 "Bogus Vanderbilt to Jail". New York Times. 1915-09-11. p. 9.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 "Prince of Braganza Tells of Swindle". New York Times. 1910-01-20. p. 3.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 "A Huge Coup" (254). NZ Truth. 7 May 1910. p. 6. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  12. "Jail for Bogus Vanderbilt". New York Times. 16 February 1911. p. 4.
  13. de Saisseval, Guy Coutant (1966). Les Maisons Impériales et Royales d'Europe. Éditions du Palais-Royal. p. 428.
  14. "A Prince of Braganza. Swindled and Blackmailed". The Argus. 1919-08-30. p. 5.
  15. The Times ( 19 June 1919), p. 11.
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